Trigger finger, rotator cuff tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis (also known as “tennis elbow”), and carpal tunnel syndrome are just some of the debilitating physical conditions that far too many electrical industry workers are far too familiar with.
In the speaker session, “Safety and Ergonomics to Improve Productivity on the Job Site,” Raffi Elchemmas, a board-certified ergonomist, discussed how emerging data is dictating how some manufacturers design their power and hand tools. Their goal? To decrease job-related injuries, boost employee health, and ultimately increase worker productivity.
According to Elchemmas, the majority (60%) of electrical industry job-related injuries are a result of sprains and strains (musculoskeletal injuries), which are typically brought on by repetitive motion and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
“Electricians are exposed to repetitive motion work over 50% of the time,” he said before asking the audience, “How many of you suffer from or know someone who suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis, or tennis elbow?”
Everyone in the room raised their hand.
Elchemmas went on to explain how data shows that 1 lb of total weight reduced decreases muscle effort by 11%.
“That may not sound significant, but it’s huge in terms of combating worker fatigue,” he said.
Force, posture, duty cycle and the operator’s weight also must be considered when it comes to tool design.
“Just because you buy the most expensive tool on the store shelf doesn’t mean it’s been ergonomically tested,” Elchemmas pointed out.